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Ari Shapiro

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It's been remarkable to watch singer-songwriter Joy Oladukun's professional success, despite the pandemic: Her music keeps showing up on popular scripted shows like Grey's Anatomy and This Is Us, leading to live performances on late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert — all without really leaving her base of Nashville, Tenn.

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, funk legend George Clinton spoke about opera singer and funk keyboardist Constance Hauman. In particular, he praised Hauman's many musical talents, which extend across genres.

More than 100 years ago, a poem by Katharine Lee Bates was put to music by Samuel Ward, and the resulting song has become one of the United States' most recognizable patriotic hymns, "America the Beautiful."

In January 2020, Angélique Kidjo took the stage at the Grammys to accept the award for Best World Music Album for Celia, a reinterpretation of songs by the Cuban "Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz. Kidjo's speech wasn't about herself.

"The new generations of artists coming from Africa [are] going to take you by storm," she said. "The time has come."

A sinking cargo ship off the coast of Sri Lanka is causing an environmental disaster for the country that looks set to have long-term effects.

The X-Press Pearl caught fire on May 20 and burned for two weeks, but the fire appears to have mostly burned out. The crew was evacuated. The ship is now partially sitting on the seabed with its front settling down slowly.

Updated May 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM ET

A growing number of European countries are blocking access to Belarusian airlines. The response comes after Belarus intercepted a commercial flight and removed and arrested Roman Protasevich, an opposition journalist who was on board.

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Simone Biles, already the most decorated gymnast in history, has surpassed expectations again. On Saturday, she performed a move considered so dangerous that no other woman has ever attempted it in competition.

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On the last episode of Play It Forward, our series in which artists tell us about their own music and the musicians who inspire them, All Things Considered spoke with Angel Bat Dawid, the improvisational musician from Chicago. She told us about her connection to the pioneer of funk: George Clinton.

After a long, dark year, social muscles have atrophied. In-person gatherings now call for weighty questions about COVID-19 safety. And many people, who during the pandemic found relief in empty calendars, don't want to go back to the world as they knew it.

The first time sociologist Mary de Young heard about QAnon, she thought: "Here we go again."

De Young spent her career studying moral panics — specifically, what became known as the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s, when false accusations of the abuse of children in satanic rituals spread across the United States.

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Dawn Richard grew up in New Orleans. Her father sang in a funk band called Chocolate Milk. He still does.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRICTION")

CHOCOLATE MILK: (Singing) Friction, baby.

SHAPIRO: As a kid, she was kind of alternative.

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Look. I wouldn't know what to do if a duck started nesting in a planter on my ninth floor balcony, but Steve Stuttard, an avid bird lover and retired Royal Navy specialist, was just the man for the job.

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President Biden is pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030.

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

On the last edition of Play It Forward, All Things Considered's chain of musical gratitude, Devonté Hynes – the English singer-songwriter, producer, director and genre-spanning creative force behind Blood Orange – spoke about experimental jazz artist Angel Bat Dawid's atmospheric track "London."

This last year has been dark. For millions of people, Leslie Jordan's voice has been a ray of light. An Emmy winning actor before the pandemic, his quarantine video diaries have shot him to another level of fame.

He has almost six million Instagram followers and, now, he also has branded merchandise, a book on the way and a gospel album: Company's Comin'. The album has duets with some of the biggest names in country music: Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Tanya Tucker, Brandi Carlisle and more.

Updated April 1, 2021 at 6:30 PM ET

Dozens of states are considering Republican-led bills that advocates say are harmful to transgender people. The recent spate of bills are "really challenging to see," says Dr. Rachel Levine, the nation's newly confirmed assistant secretary for health.

Updated March 31, 2021 at 9:09 AM ET

The U.K. aims to keep its relationship with the U.S. front and center in the coming years, according to the U.K. government's new foreign policy overview called "Global Britain in a competitive age."

How do traditional arts organizations respond to turbulent times?

Conversations about the State Department's discrimination against Asian American diplomats have reignited amid a nationwide reckoning with the country's deep-seated history of anti-Asian racism.

Over the weekend, Rep. Andy Kim, a Democrat from New Jersey, spoke out on Twitter about being discriminated against for his ethnicity during his time as an adviser in the State Department.

Updated March 11, 2021 at 5:07 PM ET

In Birmingham, Ala., Alabama Regional Medical Services — a health clinic that primarily serves a lower-income, Black neighborhood — has not administered a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is scheduled to begin Saturday.

Meanwhile, the first doses in the state went to nearby Mountain Brook, an affluent white suburb of Birmingham, says Sheila Tyson, a commissioner for Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located.

Early predictions were wrong.

The continent of Africa has seen fewer deaths from COVID-19 in the last year than people initially projected, thanks to its early response to the pandemic.

The continent of 1.2 billion people has had roughly 4 million cases and 106,000 deaths, far below Europe, the Americas or Asia.

The song "Strange Fruit" was written by a man named Abel Meeropol in the 1930s — but it will forever be associated with Billie Holiday. The lyrics vividly describe a lynching, and this haunting protest song is central to the new movie The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. The Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day plays the title character. The role is Day's acting debut, but she has already won a Golden Globe for her performance.

The number of refugees has soared over the past four years, with more than 26 million refugees worldwide as of mid-2020, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

More than 2 million Black men who pursued a higher education never finished their degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The reasons range from college affordability to family responsibilities to military service.

Morehouse College wants to help them reach the finish line.

Starting this August, the historically Black men's college in Atlanta is offering an online program with reduced tuition for men who already have some college credits.

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